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Canada, B.C., Metlakatla First Nation move to final stage of treaty negotiations

The governments of Canada and British Columbia and the Metlakatla First Nation signed a new agreement that will significantly advance reconciliation and treaty negotiations.

Harold Leighton, Chief Councillor of the Metlakatla First Nation; Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; and Scott Fraser, British Columbia’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; signed the Metlakatla Transition to Stage Five and Treaty Revitalization Agreement. The Agreement will guide the three parties in the development of a rights-recognition approach to a treaty and bring new momentum to treaty negotiations.

A rights recognition approach explicitly recognizes that Aboriginal rights are inherent and will not be extinguished or surrendered, and seeks to build a collaborative government-to-government relationship that is flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances over time.

Through this approach, the parties have agreed to move directly into the final stage of treaty negotiations and to explore a “core” approach to treaty.

Under this approach, key elements, such as self-government, land ownership, resource rights and law-making authorities, will be written into a constitutionally protected core treaty. Administrative and policy matters may be addressed through supplementary agreements that can be more easily amended, allowing for the government-to-government relationship to evolve as laws, policies and interests change. This approach makes room for a treaty relationship that is flexible and able to adapt over time.

Working as partners and developing new innovative approaches to government-to-government agreements is key to achieving reconciliation and supporting healthy and prosperous Indigenous communities in Canada.

Quotes:

Harold Leighton, Chief Councillor of the Metlakatla First Nation –

“This Transition Agreement and the strong foundation that it sets for our treaty is a positive step towards reconciliation. We look forward to working with both levels of government to realize their commitments to recognition and reconciliation. We will bring to our members a document that will allow our Nation to protect our rights, our territory and our culture for generations to come.”

Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –

“Treaties are one of the key paths to comprehensive reconciliation with First Nations, so I’m glad to see this collaborative work reach such an important milestone. Together with the Metlakatla Nation and federal government, we’re designing a treaty that respects and recognizes Aboriginal title and rights and aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Like our relationships, this agreement is flexible and will grow and evolve over time, working for all parties into the future.” 

Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations –

“This Agreement is an excellent example of how Canada, First Nations and British Columbia are working together to introduce a new flexibility into treaty negotiations. With this Agreement, Canada, British Columbia and the Metlakatla First Nation are able to move directly into the last stage of negotiations while respecting the right of Metlakatla First Nation to select their own pathway to self-determination.”

Quick Facts:

  • The territory of the Metlakatla First Nation encompasses the Skeena Watershed, Tsimshian Peninsula and offshore islands, Work Channel, Portland Inlet and the coastal area surrounding Prince Rupert.
  • The Metlakatla First Nation is part of the wider Tsimshian group that speak the Sm’algyax language. Metlakatla means “saltwater pass” in Sm’algyax.
  • The main Metlakatla community is located on the Tsimshian Peninsula, close to Prince Rupert.

Learn More:

Metlakatla Transition to Stage Five and Treaty Revitalization Agreement: https://bit.ly/2Nx7sBg

Metlakatla First Nation: http://www.metlakatla.ca/

BC Treaty Commission: http://www.bctreaty.ca/


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